Today in books and publishing: Duel of the Andrew Cuomo biographies, a call to leave Ralph Ellison alone, and science explains why books smell like books.
If you've ever dreamed of chucking it all to write the great Andrew Cuomo biography, this is the spring to do it. Random House has enlisted New York Post Albany bureau chief Fred Dicker to write a biography of the New York governor. Per Post media columnist Keith Kelly, Dicker snagged an advance in the "low six figures." That's believed to be in line with what Grand Central gave Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Shnayerson two months ago for his Cuomo biography, The Son Also Rises. Dicker doesn't have a punny title, but he has secured Cuomo's cooperation, a good news/bad news proposition for any political biographer. Dicker's book is slated for mid-2013, Shnayerson's for "sometime after 2013." [New York Post]
Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of the publication of Invisible Man and to mark the occasion, David Denby is making a simple request: stop being mean to author Ralph Ellison. "Just get off his back," Denby writes. "Stop lamenting what he didn’t do [write a second novel] and celebrate what he did do—which was to create a work of art that, as it happens, has never been more 'relevant' than now." He follows that with an endorsement of Invisible Man -- which bears repeating, even if it has reached institution status -- and a defense of Ellison for the "conservative temperament and comfortable personal habits" that defined his later years. (Denby's boss David Remnick was also sympathetic to these qualities in "Visible Man," his very good, not-entirely-available-online New Yorker profile of Ellison months before his death in 1994.) [The New Yorker]